New BMW 2 Series rumoured to keep rear-wheel drive layout

BMW bosses suggest that, unlike the new 1 Series, the upcoming 2 Series Gran Coupe will sport a rear-wheel drive platform

It has been several months since BMW teased us with a shadowy image of the new 2 Series Gran Coupe, but now more details about the compact saloon have emerged. A recent interview with BMW’s chief engineer Klaus Fröhlich suggests that, contrary to previous suggestions, the new model might keep a rear-wheel drive layout.

It was previously thought that the next 2 Series, due on sale in 2020, would use an extended version of BMW’s UKL front-wheel-drive architecture shared with the 1 Series hatch and the current MINI. However, speaking at the NextGen 2019 event in Munich recently, Fröhlich suggested that it might use the brand’s CLAR underpinnings.

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When questioned about the structure of the upcoming i4, Fröhlich responded, “This is our Cluster Architecture. This is in our rear-wheel drive cars; from the 2 successor [and] up to the X7.”

With the CLAR structure, the only common component is the bulkhead: the rest can be moved around to allow for varying wheelbases, track widths and floors which can accommodate batteries for electrified drivetrains. This will open up the possibility of plug-in 2 Series Gran Coupe models, too.

The 2 Series Gran Coupe will be an entirely new model for BMW, taking the place of the previous two-door model and forming part of its growing ‘Gran Coupe’ family. This will also include both the new 8 Series Gran Coupe and a 4 Series variant in 2020. This 2 Series version will act as a style-focused alternative to the recently-revealled 1 Series hatchback.

BMW 2 Series: design and platform

We’ve spied a few prototypes undergoing testing, all of which sport heavy camouflage. Our exclusive images give a better idea of how the production version will look. From the front, the 2 Series Gran Coupe will look almost identical to the 1 Series hatch, with BMW’s signature kidney grille flanked by a pair of LED headlamps.

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The 2 Series Gran Coupe’s rakish roofline separates its design from the 1 Series. It will sit between the 1 Series hatch and  3 Series saloon in terms of size, with rear legroom being more generous than BMW’s entry-level model, thanks to its slightly extended wheelbase.

Specifications for the new model are yet to be announced but, riding on CLAR will give a very wide scope for engine choices. The BMW 3 Series, for example, uses a range of four and six-cylinder engines – so the possibility of a hot M2 model cannot be ruled out in future.

Transmission options will consist of a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic, while some versions will be offered with the option of xDrive four-wheel drive.

What do we think of the standard BMW 2 Series? Our in-depth review reveals its strengths and weaknesses…